Watch, Waterbury Long Wind

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Description
This watch, made about 1880, featured a radical new design from the gifted watchmaker D. Azro A. Buck. Buck had filed for a patent (US204000) for his design in the fall of 1877. With the new kind of watch, Buck and his backers aimed to lower production costs and, consequently, the final sale price while still maintaining a reasonable accuracy. With fewer than 60 parts, half as many as conventional watches, the Long Wind took its name from its nine-foot-long mainspring and the effort to keep it wound. In addition to these novelties, the watch’s movement rotated in the case once in twenty-four hours.
The Long Wind was the first product of the Waterbury Watch Co., a new corporation founded about 1880 by Connecticut brass manufacturers Benedict and Burnham. It sold for about $3.50, in contrast to the cheapest American-made watches at that time that would sell, cased, for between $8 and $20. At first the company had great success, but interest dropped considerably when middlemen devised a scheme to give away the Long Wind with the purchase of a suit of clothes. The firm tried to revive sales with new watch designs, a lively advertising campaign and in 1898 a new name--the New England Watch Company. The pioneering enterprise failed in 1912, but other firms would take up the manufacture of cheap reliable watches, which came to be known as “dollar” watches.
Details:
Movement: long-wind mainspring, rotary duplex escapement, stem wound, two-wheel train
Dial: printed paper chapter ring with Roman numerals, skeletonized center with view into movement, blued steel hour and minute hand; marked: “PATENTED/MAY 21, 1878”
Case: open face, nickel-plated metal, snap-on back missing; pierced dust cap marked:
“WATERBURY WATCH/PATENTED/IN THE UNITED STATES,/GREAT BRITAIN,/CANADA, FRANCE,/GERMANY, AUSTRIA,/RUSSIA, SPAIN,/SWEDEN, DENMARK,/BELGIUM/BENEDICT 7 BURNHAM MFG’ Co./MANUFACTURERS/WATERBURY CONN. U.S.A.”
References:
Edwin Battison, “The Auburndale Watch Company: First American Attempt Toward the Dollar Watch,” Contributions from the Museum of History and Technology, United States National Museum Bulletin 218 (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1959).
Harry Chase Brearley, Time Telling Through the Ages (New York: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1919).
William Dunn, “The Waterbury Rotary Watch,” National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors Bulletin, October 2010, 542-553.
William J. Pape, History of Waterbury and the Naugatuck Valley, Connecticut (Chicago, New York: S. J. Clarke Publishing, 1918).
Location
Currently not on view
date made
ca 1879
maker
Benedict & Burnham Manufacturing Company
place made
United States: Connecticut, Waterbury
Measurements
overall: 3 in x 1 7/8 in x 3/4 in; 7.62 cm x 4.7625 cm x 1.905 cm
ring: 3/4 in; 1.905 cm
ring and stem: 7/8 in; 2.2225 cm
ID Number
1984.0416.153
catalog number
1984.0416.153
accession number
1984.0416
Credit Line
James Arthur Collection, New York University
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Work and Industry: Mechanisms
Measuring & Mapping
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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